Many associate hearing loss with old age, but it can affect people of all ages. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that one to three out of every 1,000 children are born with hearing loss, and more will develop the condition during childhood. The most common treatment for pediatric hearing loss is hearing aids.
Pediatric Hearing Aids
Hearing aids made specifically for kids include the same basic components as those designed for adults. They contain a microphone to pick up sound, a processor to analyze the sound and a receiver to deliver the amplified sound to the ear. There is also a battery, which can either be disposable or rechargeable, that powers the unit.
Hearing aids for kids are made to be more durable than adult models. Their battery components are tamper-resistant, as batteries are harmful if swallowed or handled incorrectly. Pediatric hearing aids may also include an LED light that indicates if the unit is working, a handy feature for parents and teachers to be able to quickly check the device.
Why Wearing Hearing Aids Is Important for Children
If hearing aids are the recommended treatment for your child’s type of hearing loss, it is crucial that they wear them continuously.
Between birth and three years of age, a child’s brain is rapidly developing. Receiving sound input is critical for the development of normal brain pathways for hearing, speech and language.
Speaking and listening early is important to language development. Children learn language by being continuously exposed to it, picking up words, spoken syntax and language structure.
Hearing helps children, especially infants, bond with their parents.
A recent viral video of Georgina Addison, an infant with severe hearing loss, illustrates the true impact hearing aids can have. Watch the video below, captured by her father, of Georgina hearing her parents for the first time:
Fitting Hearing Aids in Children
Most children will be fit with a behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid. This style offers a secure fit and replaceable parts that can be changed out as the child grows – a significantly more affordable option than replacing the entire hearing aid.
Below is an overview of the hearing aid fitting process for children.
An impression of the outer ear ensures your child’s earmolds fit perfectly. Their audiologist will place a foam dam into the ear canal and fill the ear with impression material. After a few minutes, the material will set and can be removed.
Earmolds can be ordered in a variety of colors. Parents may choose to order each earmold in a different color to help distinguish right from left. Older children are given the option to select their own color.
Device Fitting and Consultation
The hearing aids are programmed to your child’s exact degree of hearing loss. When the hearing aids are activated, your child will begin hearing new sounds right away. The audiologist will then run some verification tests to make sure the soft sounds are loud enough, the average sounds are comfortable and the loud sounds are not too loud.
What will an audiologist teach your child about hearing aids?
They will then teach you how to:
- Place the hearing aids
- Remove the hearing aids
- Connect and disconnect the earmold
- Tell the right and left aids apart
- Turn the hearing aids on and off
- Replace or recharge the battery
- Clean and properly store the device
Adjusting to wearing hearing aids and hearing new sounds is a process. Follow-up appointments give your audiologist the chance to monitor your child’s progress and fine tune the settings on your child’s device.
To learn more about the benefits of pediatric hearing aids, contact the professionals at Valley Audiology today.